Saturday, July 12, 2008

She's The Queen All Right

I don't know a lot about British royalty. I mean, I know there's a King and a Queen, two Knights, two Bishops, two Rooks and a bunch of pawns, but my basic royalty knowledge stop there pretty much. And while I can name some Queens ( Elizabeth I, Elizabeth II, Victoria, Freddie Mercury, etc.), I can't tell you much else. OK, the one has the purse, but anything else and I'm stumped. I could even pick the purse wielding one out of a lineup (of...other queens? I guess?), but there's no way I would know any other old, dead Queen just by looking at a picture. However, even though I would not get very far in the Who's Who of Deceased Monarchs - The Pictorial Edition, I would like to think that I have a pretty good idea of what a Queen would look like.

I was wrong. I don't. And I don't think that you do either. But let's find out, shall we? Behold! QUEEN Victoria!

Are you kidding me?? THAT is Queen Victoria? She's HUGE. And she looks pissed! That's just not my vision of a "queen", you know?

I ran across that photo in a story which ran the headline, "Blooming Enormous: Queen Victoria's 50-inch Waist Knickers Are Uncovered." Naturally, I thought, "What was covering them? A tent?" According to our friends over there across the pond at The Daily Mail on Sunday, the knickers (aka underwear) are being sold at an auction by Charles Hanson, who is a regular on BBC1's Bargain Hunt (which is like Antiques Roadshow but with cool accents and scones). They are rather large, handstitched and have a tiny gold crown embroidered on them, as well as the letters "VR" (which stand for Very Rotund). It was the size of the knickers that, apparently, sparked a bit of conversation and debate about the size of Queen Victoria.

Apparently, Vic was less than 5 feet tall and, judging from the size of the knickers (50 inches around at the waist), sported the girth of an elephant. And that might be a conservative estimate, as some records have her busting out at over 60 inches in the 1890s! (A sixty inch waist?! And she's only five feet tall? They would have had to paint a line around her circumference so you could tell if she was walking or rolling!) Apparently there are some who say that how large of a beast woman she was has been greatly exaggerated over the years. They blame in on some of the clothing having a drawstring which, when drawn, would cause the size to appear larger. Well, unless that drawstring could also double as the rope in a Tug-of-War game, I don't think that would be the case, really.

Not only are the royal undies up for bids, there's also a chemise and a nightgown. And you want to talk big? Holy Rotund Royalty, Batman! The chemise measures 66 inches across the royal breastline. I'll do the math for you and report that 66 inches equals 5 and a half feet around! You'd need a map to find your way back! But I guess that when you're the Queen in the 1800s and you have all of those little jester guys around just bringing you big turkey legs and hams all the time, I could see where one could pack on the pounds pretty quickly. I mean, really, without the Internet, what are you going to do in your castle all day long besides eat?

And the more that I learned about Vic, she seemed less like a Queen and more like she should have been living in a trailer park in South Florida. Again, according to the Daily Mail On Sunday:
  • Queen Victoria was born in 1819 and was on the throne from 1837 to 1901, having become "plump" in 1845 at the age of 26. (Translation of plump: Got stuck in the castle.)

  • In the 1880s, her petticoats were enlarged from a 38 inch waist to a 46 inch waist and some claim that her waist expanded to 50 inches or more. (Judging from the size of the underwear, I'd say that they were correct.)


  • The 1899 Christmas dinner featured five courses which were followed by a buffet of "boar's head, beef, and game pies." (Game pie? Like what? Monopoly? Chutes and Ladders?)

  • Apparently, she followed a low carb diet (sort of like the Atkins of the late 1800s) which involved eating large amounts of meat. (I can believe that. She seems to have definitely eaten large amounts of most things.)

  • The Daily Mail on Sunday reports that she was "self conscious about being less than 5 feet tall and tried to control her public image." It doesn't say HOW, though. What's she going to do? Carry one of those fun house mirrors around with her all the time? Have a big sticker that says, "Objects in front of you are smaller than they appear"?


  • Although she was a massive monarch, she married Prince Albert and they had NINE children. (And how many of them did she eat?)

  • At some point, she uttered the phrase,"We are not amused" and it is thought by some that she was referring to being pregnant, as she seemed to despise it. (Yet she did it NINE times. Well, again, without the Internet, what are you going to do in your castle all the live long day?)

  • She tended to give her used knickers as presents to her ladies in waiting and the ladies of the houses she was visiting. (Wait. What was that? EW!!!)

Here are a few things ol' Vic thought about marriage and pregnancy that she wrote in letters to one of her daughters, Alice. Alice had left the castle (or palace or golden house on the hill or whatever) to marry the guy who would end up being the Emperor of Germany.

  • "...and therefore I was in for it at once -- and furious I was. What made me so miserable was -- to have the two first years of my married life utterly spoilt by this occupation! (The occupation of being pregnant.) I could enjoy nothing -- not travel about or go about..."


  • "What you say of the pride of giving life to an immortal soul us very fine, dear, but...I think much more of our being like a cow or a dog at such moments."

  • "I positively think those ladies who are always enceinte quite disgusting; it is more like a rabbit or guinea-pig than anything else and really it is not very nice."

  • I have no adoration for very little babies. An ugly baby is a very nasty object -- and the prettiest is frightful when undressed." (Wow. So, you're getting the idea here, right? She hates sex with men (or at least, with her husband), hates being pregnant, is not real fond of babies. Hmmm....)


  • Here are her thoughts about her son, Leopold, when he was six: "Leopold...is the ugliest.I think he is uglier than he ever. he is the ugliest and least pleasing of the whole family. He walks shockingly--and is dreadfully awkward--holds himself as badly as ever and his manners are despairing, as well as his speech--which is quite dreadful. It is so provoking as he learns so well and reads quite fluently; but his French is more like Chinese than anything else; poor child, he is really very unfortunate." (Leopold had problems later in life, didn't he?)

  • "We poor creatures are born for man's pleasure and amusement, and destined to go through endless sufferings and trials..."

OK, that's enough. Could she sound any more resentful because she's gay? That has to be it. Gay, gay, gay. And since she couldn't be having a royal lesbian lover, she must have decided that she would just pack on the pounds and hope that it would keep King Horndog at bay. Well, there we go! The mysteries that are the massive Queen Victoria have been solved. She was, in the very sense of the word, a queen.

Victoria's secret, indeed.

God Save The Queen!

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